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New Measure U Part Of Sacramento City Budget Talks


A Sacramento City Council committee has sent a $940 million budget proposal to the full council for a vote next month.

Part of the committee's discussions included what the city would do to prepare for the expiration of the voter-approved Measure U tax increase.

City Manager John Shirey says the city should begin saving some of the Measure U funds to make the transition easier.

'We'll be in the hole about $60 million if we do nothing between now and fiscal year '21. We have to change that. We can't let that occur. And so Measure U funds that we're recommending that the council set aside, amount to about one year's expenditures."

Measure U was passed in 2012 to help the city restore cuts to parks and public safety after years of budget cuts.

Shirey recommends the city council consider asking voters for a new version of Measure U that would also help pay for city facilities upgrades -including the city's storm drain system.

Members of the committee say they're open to the idea of proposing a new tax increase.

The $940.5 million budget is an 8-percent increase over last year's $873 million budget. 

$35 million of this year's proposal is new Measure U spending for police, fire, and parks.

Even as the committee voted to move the proposal along, council members and staff discussed how to improve it.

Councilman Rick Jennings suggested funding a gang task force that was created in 2010 but allowed to go unfunded because of the recession.  

"We've seen that whole gangs in Sacramento is changing. It's not just based on color and geography. It's now based on social media and technology. What so, what we're finding is we need more resources to be able to address the need we have today."

City Manager John Shirey has been warning the council that  retiree health benefits will put the city in debt within 18 months. He also says the city council should consider a freeze on the number of parks it opens.

"Every year we open more parks, we take the base level of revenue and spread it thinner, which means, for all of our parks there's less money going to maintenance."

The city is scheduled to add 44 acres of parks this year.

New programs would include $2.1 million for a central city strategic plan and $1.1 million for a homeless housing initiative.

The city manager's office will hold  public hearings between now and June 9th...the date of the council's final budget.